Spirituality at Tufts: The Humanist Approach – Tufts Now

Finding community is always a key part of the student university experience, and for many at Tufts that centers around spirituality. With many spiritual traditions represented on Tufts campuses, students can make deep and abiding connections, enriching their lives and the universitys. In this occasional series, Spirituality at Tufts,Tufts Nowexplores the many and varied traditions that students take part in.

On the night before graduation in May, seniors walk up the Hill holding candles for an illumination ceremony, a bookend to their walkalso uphill and candleliton their first day of orientation as matriculating students.

In 2018, the Tufts Humanist chaplain gave the invocation at the Illumination Ceremony: Source of light and of strength, All that which sustains us and teaches us and has bound us these past years, the invocation began, we here tonight remember what these flames meant to us in our first few days on the Hill.

Humanism is one of six chaplaincies at Tufts, the only one that is purely secular, concerned with our life in the natural world and what we as creatures in that world can accomplish among ourselves, according to its brochure.

One-third of Tufts students self-report as non-religious on the first-year Spiritual Interest Survey, which doesnt mean that a yearning for meaning or even spirituality is any less important, or the need to create a community to discuss these questions.

As part of that, ritualsfor instance, the lighting of candlescan be important. It was new last year, a way of beginning our Thursday meetings and setting the space, said Walker Bristol, A14, the Tufts Humanist chaplain. The year before, a number of students arrived with a Unitarian background, and said they wanted to do more rituals. It felt important to say, this is how we create a meaningful space.

Similarly, among Humanists, rituals or traditions can be abandoned. Bristol, who has been on campus nine yearsa good chunk of the lifetime of a young movementrecalls how the Thursday meetings were originally dubbed discussions, often based on an article someone brought in.

There was an argumentative feeling about it, they said, until students approached them and said the drive for intellectual discussion wasnt why they came together.

Are we allowed to just not do this anymore? the students asked. Of course, Bristol said.

What were once discussions are now called reflections, which isnt to say the discussions cant re-emerge, but you have to be attentive to whos in the room, they said.

Bristol remembers arriving on campus nine years ago and finding a Humanist movement whose identity was mostly atheism. We used to get in the room and talk about being not religious.

But for students now, they said, questions of how logical religion is are not so interesting. Its important for me to follow. In becoming officially endorsed as a chaplain by the American Humanist Association, they received the charge to aid people in supporting their own agency.

And from agency, perhaps, comes a sense of communal identity. At the 2018 Baccalaureate service, one of the Tufts Humanists, graduating senior Corrinne Smith, A18, offered a reading, an adaptation of the poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes.

During the daylight service, Smith offered the graduates the possibility that, like the poet, they knew rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins, with souls grown deep like the rivers.

For the 2019 commencement, Bristol prepared a new invocation for the School of Medicine ceremony, another first for the Humanist chaplaincy.

Thinking to the academic year ahead, they expect the candle-lighting ritual on Thursdays will continue. It reflects the space, and what we want from it.

But, like the rivers, the flamesand everything natural on the planetall can and will change. If the space changed, maybe the candles would, too, Bristol said. Im never trying to create something that doesnt need to exist.

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Spirituality at Tufts: The Humanist Approach - Tufts Now

My Bhutan Pilgrimage-ish, Part Tourism, Part Leaning into the Spirituality of a Himalayan Buddhist Country – Patheos

When Marla and Charles from Two Truths invited me to come aboard as teaching staff for their trip to Bhutan I said no. I begged off being old and fat and not up for something seriously physically demanding. They persisted. I am glad they did.

That I was able to add in a few days centered in Bangkok to make pilgrimages to the site where Thomas Merton died and then to where John Blofelds ashes were interred, was something I will never forget. Actually the list of things I will not forget from this trip is quite long. Im amazed at our interconnectedness. I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that via the inter webs my friend Justin Whitaker was able to introduce me to his friend Will Yaryan, who introduced me to his friends Daru & Joe Shakarchi. They simply gave over three days to squiring me about, including my two pilgrimages, and a day visiting the great reclining Buddha as well as a visit to Bangkoks amulet market.Daru & Joes kindness speak to the many small and larger encounters that touched me and enriched me and made me glad for this opportunity, so rare in our lives, for most of us, to see parts of the world outside our normal experience.

Then it was time for Bhutan.We gathered from our lives at the Orchid Resort Hotel, a modest boutique hotel between the airport and Bangkok proper. There were our leaders Charles Simmons & Marla Perry. By such standards we werent an especially large group. Two of us were from Australia, Hang Nguyen &Jeanette Tran. The rest of us were Americans, Jeff Carter.Sheldon Cohen,Dawn Duncan, Mike Gruber,Wendy Roberts,Nancy Doyle, &Penelope Wong. We took off for the airport. In a hair raising race across the airport Emily Turner joined us just in time. In addition,David Roadhouse & I rounded it out with various teaching responsibilities.We touched wheels in Calcutta. As we were not given an opportunity to debark, I guess I cannot say Ive been to India.

Then after witnessing the rise of the Himalayas, and having Mt Everest pointed out to us, we landed in Paro Airport in the Kingdom Of Bhutan. From there we were greeted by Kezang Nendag and his crew from Bhutan Wisdom Tours. Special shoutouts to Tashi who was our principal guide and to Pema for driving us and, well, keeping us alive on small and winding roads. From this moment we were pretty much completely in their capable hands. (As an aside if you are considering going to Bhutan, I cannot recommend them highly enough. Professional, caring, and with a focus on the spiritual & Buddhist aspects of a visit to the country.)From there it begins to blur. We visited monasteries and convents. We saw temples. We met people and heard talks from dignitaries both secular and religious. We learned much of the history of the kingdom and its astonish rapid growth from an absolute monarchy at the beginning of the twentieth century, which then, due almost entirely to the kings themselves, transformed into a constitutional monarchy and functioning democracy with a vision for itself that has inspired the world. Not to let them off the hook for some very bad things. We cant. But, also fully acknowledged and nuanced for a tiny and very poor country sandwiched between two regional powers, both thinking super powers, and happy to stretch their muscles, the kingdom and its existence is something genuinely marvelous.I blogged my adventures. My first day,our landing in Paro, and realizing this was not Kansas. A drive to the capital Thimphu with a stop along the way to visit a Nyngmapa convent. Another day exploring Thimphu and environs. Followed by a drive across the Dochula Pass and into Punakha.

There was that moment in Punakha, attending the sacred dances, when we were invited by the governor of the region to sit with the bigwigs, and were served salty butter tea.

Slow I began to get a feel for this tiny country that managed never to be colonized, neither by the Tibetans nor anyone else. Their pride in who they were, and their hopes for their future preserving their unique culture while fronting into modernity.Then there was a brief non-blogging interlude as I entertained the joys of travelers diarrhea. And as I was recovering, fortunately a light touch, bending over wrong while trying to rummage in my bag, I experienced a nasty back spasm. All in all one day lost. With some caution for a while regarding my normal propensity for the spicer foods and for the whole rest of the trip pretty careful in walking up and down steps. This is not a country for folk in wheelchairs, or, even with significant mobility issues. All sidewalks are littered with hazards of one sort or another.From the interlude, well for me, they all got on just fine, weresumedour adventures. Learned a lot about the amazing Dilgo Khyentse, whose influence touched a great deal of our time in the country.

Then a bit more digging in, including some exploring of Paro. Letting the experience sink in and to see how it was part straight ahead tourism, and part genuine spiritual pilgrimage, pilgrimage-ish, if you will. Then, without a doubt for me, the highest point of many high points, encountering the nun Namgyel Lhamo.

Finally it ended. We said goodbye to Jeff who was off to meet his spouse elsewhere in the kingdom, as well as to Charles & Marla who were off to India. At the Bangkok airport Dawn, Mike, and Nancy peeled off to catch planes. David took off to a separate hotel in town. The rest of us returned to the Orchid.

This morning Penelope (our unofficial leader if a crowd as independent minded as this could have one) and Sheldon left. In about an hour Wendy and I will go to the airport. Leaving Huang & Jennifer to dawdle for another day before they take off.Our little band reminded me, at least in my more romantic moments of Herman Hesses little novel Journey to the East. At least if one doesnt think too hard and try to find actual comparisons. A more congenial group I cannot imagine. I am so grateful they were my companions, and I theirs

What next?Well, as much as I admire the functionality of the bum gun, Ill be glad not to have to use adaptors for charging my electronics, and, well, its true, theres no place like home.

Ill be processing all that Ive experienced for a while yet. Especially my reflections as a more or less modernist Buddhist, and Zen person encountering an ancient and in many ways alien to me form of Buddhism, in an historically Buddhist country. Rich. Challenging.

And I expect Ill be sharing at least some of that here.

But, in the moment, its time to lean into the long ride home.

Submitted respectfully,

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My Bhutan Pilgrimage-ish, Part Tourism, Part Leaning into the Spirituality of a Himalayan Buddhist Country - Patheos

Amazon Synod Press Briefing: The spiritual dynamic of the Synod – Vatican News

At the Synod for the Amazon on Wednesday, participants continued their discussions in small groups, as the assembly reached its halfway point.

By Vatican News

Following the morning session, they daily Synod press briefing focused on the unique spiritual dimension of the gathering, and its significance for the whole world, with speakers addressing topics such as our common responsibility in caring for the earth; the need for an integral human ecology; vocations; and the role of the laity.

The Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Dr Paolo Ruffini, summarized some the main topics at the centre of discernment for the synod, including: the Amazon region as a paradigm for the earth as our common home; a calling to ecological conversion; interculturation; access to the sacraments and education; ministries; migration; rural and urban life; international and multilateral engagement for human rights. He said participants at the Synod felt strongly the need to focus on an overall, unified vision, guided by the Holy Spirit, rather than getting caught up too much in details.

Fr Giacomo Costa emphasized once again that the Synodal path is very different from worldly gatherings. It is an experience marked not by discussions or debates, like a secular parliament, but rather has a spiritual dynamic, marked especially by fraternity. He spoke too about the abundance of joy, trust, faith that so far have characterized the assembly.

The first guest speaker, Ms Yesica Patiachi Tayori, an indigenous woman from Peru, spoke about the role of native peoples as guardians of the forest, while noting that caring for our common home is the responsibility of everyone. She said that her people are facing a real threat of extinction, and already have the experience of being discriminated against.

Bishop Ambrogio Spreafico spoke about the synod as an ecclesial event, with repercussions not only for the Pan-Amazon region, but for the whole world. He mentioned the importance of and integral, human ecology, especially in light of Pope Francis teaching in Laudato s, which he said has not been well understood.

The fraternal environment at the Synod was also mentioned as a highlight by Bishop Wellington Tadeu de Queiroz Vieira. He also spoke about the crisis of vocations, not only in Amazonia but around the world; and said that the question of vocations should not be primarily about celibacy, but about holiness.

Finally, Bishop Pedro Jos Conti spoke about the role of the laity. He said they were not merely helpers of the clergy and religious, but had their own lay vocation, which he called an antidote to clericalism. Bishop Conti noted the importance of finding a balance in producing goods from the land, and emphasized the necessity of drawing from the ancient wisdom of the native people.

Dr Ruffini, asked about the small circles, said that the Press Office expects to be able to publish the reports of the groups on Friday afternoon.

One reporter asked about the symbolic significance of a statue that was used in the ceremony for the consecration of the Synod to St Francis, which took place in the Vatican Gardens.The representatives of the Holy See Press Office said they would find out more information about the statue and the artist who created it. They noted that the ceremony was organized by REPAM. Speaking in a personal capacity, Dr Ruffini said the statue represented life.

Ms Tayori fielded a question about her own native people, and recounted how they were exploited by those seeking rubber. She also spoke about a Dominican missionary who ministered among her people, and who fought for and with the Harakbut people. She said that but for that missionary, she would likely not be present to tell her story.

Responding to a question about what was most moving at the Synod, Bishop Conti said what struck him most was the opportunity to hear from the indigenous peoples, and the freedom with which they spoke about their own experiences. He said it is the children who will save the environment, and particularly the children of the indigenous people.

He said we must be united with one another, and grow in fraternity and solidarity with others, and said it was a beautiful time for communion within the Church.

Bishop de Queiroz Vieira said one of the most significant moments in the synod is the availability to live diversity in unity. That, he said, is based on brotherhood, which is led by and modelled by Pope Francis.

Following along the same lines, Bishop Spreafico also praised the humility of Pope Francis as a model. He said the way in which we listen to pain; this is a time in which we listen to pain, and share it.

Bishop de Quieroz Vieria, in response to a question about the role of women, said that the presence of women is essential in the Church. He highlighted their role in missionary work, catechesis, liturgy, in caring for the poor and in caring for children. He said the Church and the world must recognize the value of women, noting there are places where women are discriminated against.

He said that with regard to the question of opening the diaconate to women, Bishop de Quieroz Vieria said that question was already the subject of study, and that in the meantime, the value of women should be recognized.

Bishop Spreafico noted that many pastoral projects in his own diocese are led by women, and spoke of the important role women play in the Church.

Bishop Conti said the Brazilian Bishops Conference was moving in this direction, and reiterated the words of his brother Bishops that is essential to enhance the role of women.

Another reporter asked Bishop Conti what he envisions as possibilities for a Church not only with an Amazonian face, but with a lay face. The Bishop said that the path to fuller participation on the part of the laity is a process which is going forward. He emphasized the need for formation for lay people in their own special callings.

Bishop de Queiroz Vieria emphasized that the Church is made up not only of Bishops, but of all the baptized. He noted that the Synod was called precisely in order for the Bishops to make decisions in consultation with all.

Asked about whether Bishops were satisfied with the representation of women in the Synod, Bishop de Queiroz Vieria emphasized the unique composition and role of a Synod. He said it is not simply a matter of numerical representation, but that in this particular ecclesial context, the representation in the Synod is significant.

Bishop Conti insisted that we are experiencing a Synodal Church, and that little by little, the Church can be expected to open new paths. He suggested that more spaces will be opened to women in the future.

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Amazon Synod Press Briefing: The spiritual dynamic of the Synod - Vatican News

Rudy Giulianis Ukraine smear pals courted powerful Jewish spiritual leaders and right-wing backers of Israe – New York Daily News

Weve all seen the extent to which Parnas and Fruman and Giuliani would do whatever is necessary to help Donald Trump and to attack his political enemies," said Logan Bayroff, a spokesman for J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group. They did this regardless of whether it was in Americas best interests or the long-term best interests of Israel.

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Rudy Giulianis Ukraine smear pals courted powerful Jewish spiritual leaders and right-wing backers of Israe - New York Daily News

Education, compensation, and spiritual outreach protect threatened whale sharks – Mongabay.com

In the 1980s and 1990s, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) were being slaughtered by the hundreds in the waters off the coast of Gujarat, a state in western India famous for being the last refuge of the Asiatic Lion. While the lions were protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, the whale sharks were not.

Demand for the sharks fins and meat in south-east Asia drove a roaring export trade. According to one study published in 2000 in the journal Current Science, over 1,700 whale sharks were killed between 1988 and 1998. A further 600 were killed between 1999 and 2000, according to another study by WWF-India published in 2001. A single whale shark could earn a fisherman anywhere from $2,500 to $7,000, depending on its size.

It was happening because of greed, Tulsibhai Gohel (bhai is an honorific that shows respect), the 42-year-old president of the Sagar Putra Foundation, a local fishermans association, told Mongabay. We were getting so much money, it was impossible not to kill them.

In 2000, a documentary by Mike Pandey called Shores of Silence, which included footage of men cutting off a whale sharks dorsal fin while the fish was still alive, drew widespread attention to the plight of these gentle giants. The government was lobbied and a year later the fish was added to Schedule 1 of the WPA, giving it the highest legal protection in India.

Awareness campaign

However, awareness of the sharks protected status remained limited in Gujarat. In order to spread the message, the Whale Shark Conservation Project (Gujarat) was founded in 2004 as a partnership between Tata Chemicals, a public company, the Wildlife Trust of India, an NGO, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Gujarat Forest Department.

To lose a species that has been estimated to be as old as the dinosaurs, and about whom enough knowledge has not been gained, would be a big loss. This prompted Tata Chemicals Ltd. to partner with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) to embark on the Whale Shark Conservation project, Alka Talwar, the head of sustainability and corporate social responsibility at Tata Chemicals, told Mongabay.

Tata Chemicals has provided about $700,000 in funding since the projects inception as part of its corporate social responsibility, WTI the scientific and conservation expertise, and the Gujarat Forest department legal sanction and economic support for the communities. The collaboration among a public company, an NGO, and the state is one of the projects two pillars; the other is the fishing community. The model has been so successful because we were able to convert the community from hunters to saviours, Farukhkha Husenkha, WTIs assistant manager, sociology for the project, told Mongabay.

Husenkha joined the project in 2012 and operates out of Veraval, a fishing town that is the field base of the project. The project extends for roughly 160 kilometers (110 miles), and includes four other major fishing villages: Mangrol and Porbandar to the northwest of Veraval, and Sutrapada and Dhamlej to the southeast. The fishing seasons runs from September to June and can be quite lucrative, with fishermen earning up to $45,000 in a good year.

In addition to the ban on killing the sharks, the fishing communities have been taught to rescue the shark if it gets entangled in their nets. The nets are 20 meters (66 feet) wide and 5 meters (16 feet) deep. As many 100 nets can be cast into the sea and left overnight, creating a wall over a mile long.

Husenkha is one of three WTI employees in the region. He is joined by biologist Charan Kumar Paidi and field officer Prakash Doriya, a former fisherman who has been trained to help rescue and tag the sharks. My role is to make sure that the fishermens motivation [to protect the shark] is maintained, Husenkha said.

The project has documented 710 whale shark rescues as of March 2019. Eight sharks have also been tagged for research purposes, while five whale shark pups have been logged by the local fishing community. According to BC Choudhury, the lead investigator of the project, the pups prove that whale sharks breed in the Arabian Sea off the western coast of India.

A spiritual approach

To win the hearts of the fishing communities, Morari Bapu a spiritual leader who has a large following in Gujarat was appointed the brand ambassador for the campaign. He would prove to be the perfect messenger.

The best thing that worked in the whale shark initiative was the involvement of Morari Bapu, Anju Baroth, a scientist with the Wildlife Institute of India, told Mongabay. If a scientist had gone and given a lecture about conservation, nothing would have gone into their heads. An approach which is close to their heart was required.

Since whale sharks are a migratory species, Bapu told the community a simple story: The whale shark, which he named Vhali, or dear one, was like a relative coming home to give birth. The community would not harm such a relative but protect and care for her and her child. In the same way, they must protect and care for the shark, which, despite its size, is a gentle creature that causes no harm. He also appealed to the communitys sense of Dharma. Killing the shark was a sin, he told them, while saving it would bring them good karma. To drive the message home, actors performed a skit based on this theme.

Though it took a few years to convince all the fishermen to get on board, today, there is a total ban [on whale shark hunting]. The mind-set has changed, Gohel said.

The project reinforces Bapus message every year with two community events. Since 2015, the project has celebrated international Whale Shark Day on August 30th. In addition, a culturally significant day in the Gujarati calendar has been designated Gujarat Whale Shark Day by the Forest Department. On that particular day, the fishers will not go out to sea. It is an important day to spend with their families, Husenkha said.

Follow the leader

The projects other important activity in building community support was getting the community heads, known as Patels, on its side. Such is their tradition that the writ of these heads is the law in their communities. Tulsibhai Gohel is the Patel in Veraval and heads an association that counts 2,100 fishing boat owners as members. Those who do not follow their Patels instructions are blackballed.

Once the community leader has decided not to hunt, if someone offers even $10,000 for a shark, we wont kill it, said Patel Jivabhai Bariya, former head of the Sutrapada Koli Fishermans Association. Jivabhai has personally helped rescue around 50 whale sharks. There is a sense of pride that has come with being part of the project too. The world knows that we have been protecting the whale shark and we are proud to be part of the project, Jivabhai said.

Monetary compensation

In late 2005, the Gujarat Forest Department agreed to compensate the fishermen for the nets that were ruined when they cut the shark free. When the hunting stopped, the whale shark population increased and more were getting stuck in the nets, Ratilal Hardas Bariya, Patel from Dhamlej, said. It was causing the fishermen a lot of trouble.

The department has paid out around $130,000 in compensation up to 2018, the latest year for which data are available. In 2010, the department also agreed to let fishermen document the rescues themselves using plastic film cameras provided by the project. This significantly cut down on the time taken to rescue the shark, and thereby reduced the stress on the fish. This year, the project has launched the Vhali app, so the fishermen can take photos or video on their smart phones.

The institutionalisation of the process for providing monetary relief to fishermen for net damages incurred during whale shark rescue operations has also contributed to the project success, Tatas Talwar said.

A holistic model

In 2005, Tata Chemicals was awarded the Green Governance Award for the project, and in 2014, the Gujarat Forest Department received a Biodiversity award from the UNDP and the Ministry of Environment. The Project has just started a similar project in Kerala in Indias far south.

The Whale Shark Conservation Project has been successful because each partner brought something different to the table. All these blocks were put together and the puzzle was solved, Baroth said. Companies have the money and traditionally the research community is always in the need of money.

For Talwar, it also provides evidence that companies can play a big role in conservation, with or without the CSR act. The need is for environmental organizations, which have knowledge about ecosystem and biodiversity, to raise the issues and rope in different companies depending upon their areas of influence.

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Education, compensation, and spiritual outreach protect threatened whale sharks - Mongabay.com

"A Spiritual Experience": The Artist Behind a Rediscovered Last Supper Talks About Its Creation – Washingtonian

Akili Ron Anderson is a Howard University professor now, but in the early 1980s he was the first chairperson of the visual arts department at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts when a coworker approached him about making an altarpiece at his church, New Home Baptist, on Holmead Place, Northwest. Anderson grew up around the corner on Meridian Place and loved the idea of making a piece of art that his mother could see. So he began working in the church whenever it was not in use, between choir practices and services, eventually installing a Last Supper bas relief that was covered with drywall when the building was sold and remained hidden for years until construction workers discovered it recently. Most of the time I was in there by myself, he says. It actually got to be something of a spiritual experience for me.

Anderson envisioned his artwork forming a picture that would be completed by the presence of a preacher and a choir. It was done to permanently be on that wall, he says. He built it using wire mesh that was anchored into the cinderblock walls, then built up the relief using concrete and Structo-Lite, a coarse type of plaster thats frequently used for restoration. You put it on sculpture and you chisel into the plaster, Anderson says. Then you put the white coat on top of that to smooth it out. Removing the altarpiece would require some expertise and not a little money: Youd have to cut out in sections with the cinderblock thats behind it, Anderson says. That could be done but its expensive.

At the time he made the sculpture, Anderson was inspired in part by the Black Arts Movement of the 60s and 70s, which in part saw black art as a corrective to centuries of oppression. Anderson, who attended a year of art school at the Corcoran before transferring to Howard, describes the Black Arts Movement as a personal and collective cultural discovery and sense of black pride. It wasnt for me, at least, anything other than that. Many African American churches had artwork that portrayed Jesus as a blue-eyed white man, but Anderson says his work wasnt intended to change any historical point: Jesus is a black hero, frankly.It was a matter of claiming what we call that the Jesus of history. It was totally legitimate for people praying or working to make their heroes look more like them. Its no problem, but when youre placing the image of one culture above another, that says, We are more important than you.'

He modeled his sculpture of Jesus and the disciples on congregants and people he saw around Columbia Heights. It was just people walking up and down the streets, he says. It was the people I grew up with.I took not only features but expressions: how people emote, how a leader looks, how a follower looks. All of those kind of things went in to the faces. The bodies are not where the action is on this sculpture. You want it to be alive, get an alive feeling from the piece, Anderson says. You want it to come off the page or come off the surface as having a life. Thats what I tried to do.

Over the next decades, Anderson created art for a number of churches, mostly around the 14th Street corridor, including John Wesley AME Zion Church and St. Augustine Catholic Church.I think its important for black children sitting in churches all over this country on Sunday morning to look up at the windows, look up at images and see themselves and believe that they can ascend to heaven, too, he told the Washington Post in 1994. He often worked in stained glass. You can see his large work Sankofa at the entrances to the Columbia Heights Metro Station; hes also got stained glass works at Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel at Howard and in the Prince Georges County Courthouse.

Anderson was delighted to learn the sculpture had survived all these years; hed long assumed the buildings next owner, theChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had removed it. He and Joy Zinoman, the Studio Theatre founder who is turning the former church into the new home forStudio Acting Conservatory and whose crew found the artwork, have been in touch, and he hopes to get over to Holmead Place soon with his students to see the sculpture again. Let them just see the life of an artist and see what happens with the work, he says. To see what their questions are. I might walk by my old house.

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"A Spiritual Experience": The Artist Behind a Rediscovered Last Supper Talks About Its Creation - Washingtonian

500 SoCal Spiritualists, Marianne Williamson, and UCSD’s PC Princess || PC Princess – The UCSD Guardian Online

As I sat in my Lyft taking a 30 minute drive to the Seaside Center for Spiritual Living listening to the October Democratic Debate on the radio, I did not know what to expect upon entering Marianne Williamsons Encinitas rally. Williamson is quite an outlier on the political scene Vox writer Zack Beauchamp called her campaign scary, while Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart said that its a pity that we likely will not be graced with her presence on a debate stage ever again.

Neither of these sentiments rang true as I entered the auditorium, being greeted by an aura of enlightened energy, the aroma of incense and oils, and a sea of rally signs portraying Williamsons likeness.

The infamous candidate has been polling at 0 percent in numerous polls for the past several weeks however, it was clear that the hundreds of supporters, many who have been following Williamson for decades, were in it for the long haul. Several of the followers that I spoke to echoed this notion. One woman who practiced the spiritual exercise of light reading told me that she had been following Williamson since the 1970s. It appeared to me that Williamsons core base was an audience that is aft overlooked by many a presidential candidate one of those who practice spiritual awakening and self-discovery.

The crowd cheered as Williamson took the stage around 8:10 p.m. Many supporters wiped away tears of joy at seeing a lighthouse beaconing them to enlightenment in a sea of moral darkness. Williamson took her place in front of the crowd and began speaking in her iconic coastal accent.

Theres nothing holy about complacency, and theres nothing negative about yelling fire if everything is burning, Williamson asserted to the crowd.

But the main focus of the night was not on spirituality. Rather, Williamson honed in on the intersection of spiritual enlightenment and political involvement.

We have allowed ourselves the chronic convenience of political disengagement, Williamson continued. This isnt the time to say: What is going on? This is the time to say: Come on, we need some courage. We can do this.

Her 45 minute speech ended in a verbose uproar from her supporters. However, the night was just getting started. She gave the audience two options a question and answer session about her candidacy, or the opportunity for a brief group meditation and reflection session. While I abstained from voting, the room unanimously chose the latter.

I did not know what to expect going into this. However, after closing our eyes and clearing our minds, Williamson encouraged us to find our deepest desire for the country, and to shout it out loud by finishing the phrase I imagine an America in which The room came to life for the next 15 minutes, with folks sharing their desires ranging from an America in which there are no more school shootings to an America in which the bees are saved. I found this exercise heartwarming the people in the room genuinely cared about the nations moral compass.

As the night came to a close, and I sat in the backseat of a Lyft home, I couldnt help but reflect on the Marianne 2020 campaign as a whole. My experience with Williamsons campaign was not scary. However, I also dont find it a pity that she will likely not return to the debate stage; her personal brand of political morality seems to not be a winning ideology. That being said, Marianne Williamson serves as a voice for a niche community in the nation a joy to watch for those who consider themselves an outsider to the spirituality community. Will I be casting my vote for Williamson come March? No, but will I be cheering her on from the cosmic sidelines of the universe? You bet your spiritual ass I will.

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500 SoCal Spiritualists, Marianne Williamson, and UCSD's PC Princess || PC Princess - The UCSD Guardian Online

Why Gitanjali JB wants to put the soul and spirituality back in Indian education – EdexLive

We all know who Sonam Wangchuk is, thanks to3 Idiots. This thought leader and education reformist has done a lot for Ladakh and its citizens. Perhaps one of his most significant contributions has been as the Founding Member of Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL).

Another lesser-known face, albeit a formidable one, isGitanjaliJB.Born in Balasore to a mother who used to say that girls should be brought up like boys, she went on to study at Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar and encompassing all her learning from the coastal state, she worked in the corporate sector for six years, she established a publishing house Helios Books, transformed AUM Hospitals in Puducherry and of course, became the CEO of HIAL.

How she bumped into innovator Wangchuk is a very interesting story. The 46-year-old reached out to him, they met and by the end of that meeting, We were finishing each others sentences, she shares. Today, HIAL, her dream project, is an institute to reckon with and will be her focus for the next 10-15 years. After that, who knows? A book is underway and in between brushing up her karate skills (she is a black belt, by the way) and dropping by Bhubaneswar for Odissi practice, she plans to read - and then some. Recently, she took to the stage at TEDx Hyderabad 2019 and blew us all away with her wise words. So we asked her about what makes her proud of HIAL, about ballet (yes, she is a trained ballerina too!) and her latest initiative Peaceful Warriors. Excerpts from an inspirational chat:

While you give your parents the credit for giving you their trust and freedom, how would you say you were influenced by your experience of living in Balasore and your time spent at XIMB? What lasting impressions have they left on you?I could become what I am today because of the trust and freedom with which my parents brought me up. My mother used to say in the early 70s when I was growing up that girls should be brought up like boys. So I was amongst the first girls in Balasore to ride a bicycle during that time. I was allowed to explore everything and decide for myself which career I wanted to pursue, which city I wanted to live in, which philosophy to follow and who to marry. They had the humility to accept that they do not know what is right for me and allow me to choose that for myself. They always had full confidence in me and my decisions that I would choose the best option necessary for my progress.A small-town upbringing, like the one I had in Balasore, Odisha, in a joint family instills in you important values like living together and putting others first. You grow up trusting the world around you because it is a safe place to live in where almost everybody knows everybody else. There is a sense of belonging to the community of which you are a part and that stays with you for the entire life! At XIMB, I was deeply influenced by two of my professors, DP Dash who taught Systems Thinking and Indranil Chakraborty who taught Organisation Theory. They went beyond commerce and profits and spoke about interdependence and inter-relatedness of systems and phenomenon!

How was your experience of meeting Sonam Wangchuk in 2017? When was it that you realised that your goals align when it comes to HIAL? Take us through how your association began...It was a WhatsApp message 'The next learning revolution forwarded by a friend of mine that first introduced me to Sonam Wangchuks idea of the university that he was envisioning. I got in touch with him as he and I were traveling to Mumbai from Leh and Chennai respectively on the same dates and we decided to meet. A meeting that was supposed to be for an hour extended much beyond that, even to the next day! There was a lot of alignment in our thoughts about education like learning by doing, relevant curriculum and so on that we were finishing each others sentences! He invited me to visit Ladakh to see the project.HIAL is my dream project because it is a canvas that connects all the dots of my personality: that of an educator, researcher, entrepreneur, administrator and also a performing and martial artist. As the Founding CEO, I raise funds, design curriculum, supervise the design and construction of the buildings, initiate setting up live labs or enterprises where students work and learn. I also teach karate to the students at SECMOL under my initiate Peaceful Warriors which aims to make any girl in India a black belt.

Tell us about how it is to work with someone like Wangchuk towards a goal so wholesome.It is interesting to work with Sonam Wangchuk because, like me, he also believes that anything is possible, anything is doable, he has a new idea every day which he wants to implement. And this childlike curiosity and wanting to do things resonates very much with my personality as well because all my life, I have attempted and done new, different and impossible things.HIAL for me is that experiment that has the potential to change the way higher education is happening not only in India, but the whole world.

Do you think this institute's model is replicable in other parts of the country? Are their plans to expand? Because there is a need for more such institutes... The four principles of HIAL are a curriculum that is contextual, a pedagogy that is applied and experiential, an approach that is inter-disciplinary and a problem-solving methodology that blends indigenous wisdom with modern technology! And yes, this can be made replicable everywhere. But we do not believe in scaling up into chains of schools and universities, instead, we believe in growing organically. Most of the Ivy Leagues are single institutions and not chains. But we believe in the exchange of ideas, students and faculty so that we can learn from one another and do things in the contexts that we understand. We would like many educators from India and abroad to visit us, learn from our experience and we learn from theirs and contextualise the learnings to our environments.

You have been a part of this education system for so long now, what do you think is its need of the hour?Our education system, unfortunately, suffers from two main problems. First is that worldwide, it is a remnant of the industrial age where classrooms of students are treated as batches of raw materials to be processed in the same way. It is not focused on what the student needs to flower, but transacts an objective curriculum written by a third party without any relevance to the needs and context of the child.Secondly, in India, the education system suffers from a post-colonial hangover where we have lost our vernacular and indigenous wisdom and hence, our sense of self-respect has been eroded!The need of the hour, therefore, is two-fold. First is to make education child-centric, contextual and applied. Secondly, it is to rediscover Indias uniqueness and culture and make it a part of everyday living because it was naturally sustainable and in harmony with nature. Also, the purpose of education is the discovery of ones soul, but spirituality is not part of todays narrative in education.

As the theme for TEDx this time was 'Limitless'. What is it that makes you feel limitless? Also, our education system is limited in some ways, doing away with which limitations do you think can free it up so that it can reach its full potential?Human potential is limitless. Humans are designed to outgrow the limited egoistic consciousness steeped into suffering, disease and death into becoming universal beings. The purpose of life is to be enlightened like Buddha or Mahavira or Vivekananda! That is the limitless human potential that is never exploited, but is wasted during ones existence on Earth! Once we recognise this and believe in this, we are given limitless opportunities to grow and impact the world.The education system is limited in many ways. The curriculum is outdated and is not dynamic. It is designed neither by the teacher nor the student, but by a third person. The manner of teaching is limited in classrooms, there is very little experiential and immersive teaching-learning that happens, it is limited by the life skills that it imparts to the learners, it does not help the development of the whole person and is only limited to mental education. The biggest limitation is that it is copied from the western paradigm of education which does not talk about spirituality in any way. The very purpose of education in the Indian paradigm is the discovery of ones soul, but this is not even talked about in modern education. Words like soul and spirituality are absent!

When education is designed to proceed from the near to the far, from local to global, from contextual to universal and is taught in a manner that is applied and experiential, it will reach its full potential. Finally, we have to bring in the narrative of spiritual education into the mainstream. Spirituality is what India has stood for and even today, the whole world is looking at India for answers to the problems that it has created using linear and reductionist approaches to problem-solving.

You've explored more sectors than most of us put together corporate, entrepreneurship, education, ballet, karate, publishing and so much more. Which sector was the most difficult for you?Every one of them was challenging in their own ways and that is what I enjoy. I am a start-up person. I thrive in chaos. I love a blank drawing board or a blank canvas to paint the vision of something. When these projects grow to a size that systems work and are in place, I like to hand it over to competent people and like to move to the next chaos. So, HIAL is technically my fourth start-up or the fourth chaos and I am loving it. The most difficult one, however, was the hospitals project because of my lack of domain knowledge, which is medicine, limited my ability to make a change there. I believe that one can move into any sector and learn it which is what I did with my engineering and publishing businesses, but the hospital was a different ball game.

What can we expect from you next? Which field are you going to venture into?HIAL will be my focus area for some time at least for the next 10-15 years. Every new skill that I add to myself will be towards that. For instance, I am learning the Ladakhi language now. I hope to be fluent by the end of the year. I am writing a book Education for Tomorrow: An Integral Approach and plan to have it published it by next year. I plan to delve deep into the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and the Works of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo and also study all the educationists in depth.

When the duo researched, they found out that HIAL is the worlds first in several ways:- HIAL is the worlds first Doers University that follows the pedagogy of learning by doing and immersive teaching-learning practices.- It will be the first Mountain University in the world that will focus on all the issues and problems faced by the mountain world like climate change impacting glaciers melting at an alarming rate, flashfloods, valley greening in the high altitude desert terrain of Ladakh, urban migration of youth leaving the villages empty, menace of waste generated through irresponsible tourism to name a few.- The students will be working not on staged projects but real-life and real-time problems mentioned above and working towards solutions as a part of their course and learning.- For this HIAL is setting up live labs that generate resources to run the university while the students get free education, thereby making the education free as was the case in ancient India, students pay with their hard work, sweat and creativity!

Two recent projects from HIAL that they are proud of are:- Their fellowship project started with the planting of a 600 m2 of forest using indigenous plants and indigenous techniques of soil preparation and plantation techniques. If this pilot succeeds, then this will be scaled up to 20,000 m2 next year as the ambitious vision of HIAL is to have 70 per cent of its 200-acre campus green with forests and plantations!- Their entire campus is off-grid, solar passive housing structures and they started the fellowship this year when they had just one such structure that would triple up as a classroom for fellows during the week, office space during the hours in between and living quarters for some of them who live on campus. They are proud of the fact that we manage to live on the desert land in the middle of nowhere with limited basic resources like water, yet initiate the fellowship, conduct the education confluence and work amidst these challenging circumstances to give shape to the project.

For more on her. check outin.linkedin.com/in/gitanjalijb

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Why Gitanjali JB wants to put the soul and spirituality back in Indian education - EdexLive

A man walked into a wild corner of Hatcher Pass last year on a spiritual quest. He never came out. – Anchorage Daily News

Last August, a solitary man walked 14 miles into a lonely valley on the western side of Hatcher Pass.

He carried almost nothing: A backpack, 5 pounds of oatmeal. No rifle or bear spray.

Vladimir Kostenko planned to stay at a tiny dry cabin for months. He was seeking no less than the meaning of life.

An image capturing the last time Vladimir Kostenko was seen. Dmitry Kudryn flew over the cabin on Nov. 3, 2018 and saw Kostenko on the porch gesturing something about walking out. (Dmitry Kudryn photo)

For most of his 42 years, Kostenko had been on a spiritual quest to understand his place in the universe. An immigrant from Russia living in a small town in Washington state, he had pursued an almost monk-life existence, fasting regularly, meditating for hours and reading widely on religion.

Hes just not like anybody Ive ever met, said his sister, Alla Kostenko.

Vladimir had traveled the world looking for his purpose on Earth. The bearded, soft-spoken mechanic had lived in a Russian hippie commune and spent time following a charismatic evangelical preacher in Ukraine.

But the cabin deep in the Purches Creek valley would prove to be his deepest, riskiest journey yet.

Vladimir Kostenko as a child in his home city of Zelenokumsk, Russia. The family moved to the United States in 1999. (Courtesy Alla Kostenko)

Vladimir was born in the town of Zelenokumsk, in the North Caucasus region of southern Russia.

He grew up in a large, conservative Baptist family at a time when Christians were persecuted for their beliefs under the Soviet system, Alla said.

Among the 13 siblings in the Kostenko family, Vladimir was always the quiet one, said Alla, who lives on a coffee farm in Hawaii. He wouldnt initiate anything. Wed be the ones to say, Lets go here, lets play this game. He would follow and be quiet.

In 1999, the Kostenko family moved to the United States through a program that allowed Christians fleeing religious persecution in Russia to immigrate.

They settled in the small town of Walla Walla, Washington, a college and wine country town of about 30,000 people in the rural southeast corner of the state.

Moving to the United States was a dream for us, Alla said. We were all just amazed.

But some family members had an easier time adapting to American life than others. Alla, one of the youngest, was 15. She quickly learned English at her public high school.

Vladimir was 22 and out of school.

I blended in a lot better, Alla said. For my older siblings, they took some ESL classes, but they still kind of lived and communicated in Russian.

Vladimir Kostenko on a hiking trip with friends in 2005. (Courtesy Alla Kostenko.)

As they grew older, Vladimir and some of the younger siblings in the family stopped attending the conservative church theyd been raised in.

We all went on a personal search for answers, Alla said. For understanding what spirituality is, what God is, individually.

None pursued it quite like Vladimir.

In 2011, he went to live in a Russian hippie community near Moscow to see if he could find meaning to the spiritual gifts he was given, Alla said.

He returned to Walla Walla, and several years later traveled to Ukraine. There he became interested in the teachings of a controversial charismatic Ukrainian evangelist named Vladimir Muntyan.

Vladimir was unusually earnest about his quest to understand the mysteries of God, she said.

He was also a bit of a loner. As he grew older his family wondered whether he wanted a wife or children.

He always said, Id absolutely love to do that, Alla said. But if I have not figured out what Im here for and what this is all about, I cannot bring another person into this.

Vladimir Kostenko on a family visit to Russia in 2003. (Courtesy Alla Kostenko)

In recent years, Vladimir had been living quietly on the property of a family friend in Walla Walla, fixing up old cars. He was an uncommonly talented mechanic, Alla said. Money meant little to him and hed often tell people to pay him whatever they wanted to pay. God would provide, he figured.

He was always talking about how he wants to be useful, Alla said.

Suddenly, an opportunity to come to Alaska arrived.

Truly in the middle of nowhere

Dmitry Kudryn, a family friend and successful entrepreneur in Wasilla, needed someone to drive a truck full of merchandise from the Lower 48 to Alaska.

Kudryn is a charming self-made millionaire and aspiring YouTube star who has dabbled in cellphone repair stores and who now owns Crave, a business that manufactures phone accessories, as well as a construction company.

Kudryn is the oldest of 12, from a Ukrainian family that also came to the United States as refugees fleeing both religious and political persecution. The decor of his office, in a new construction building just off the Parks Highway, features a framed copy of the U.S. Constitution and an American flag.

The Kudryn and Kostenko families crossed paths in Walla Walla before Kudryn moved to Wasilla in 1999. They shared the experience of being large, Russian-speaking immigrant families in a small town in the rural Pacific Northwest, and theyd stayed in touch over the years.

While Kudryn had not been particularly close with Vladimir himself, he was happy to welcome him to Alaska.

Locator of cabin

Vladimir knew Kudryn owned a dry cabin in the Purches Creek valley, on the western side of Hatcher Pass near Willow. Getting to the 12-by-20-foot cabin requires a 14-mile hike from Hatcher Pass Road, over mountain passes.

Its truly in the middle of nowhere, Kudryn said. Its so quiet, no phones, nothing.

People mostly use the area for snowmachining in the winter, plus some mining, hunting, trapping and a little hiking in the summer, said Rudy Wittshirk, a longtime Willow resident who has extensively explored the area.

But it is an especially remote corner of Hatcher Pass where few venture.

Its a cliche, so I hate to say it, but that is a pretty rugged area, Wittshirk said.

Kudryn was open to letting his friend use the cabin. But a few things worried him.

First, Vladimir only wanted to bring 5 pounds of oatmeal and no other food. Though the cabin was well-stocked with canned foods, Kudryn worried that the already-thin Vladimir 61 and 145 pounds might not have enough to eat. Why not bring a few vegetables, he wondered.

Vladimir also wouldnt take a gun or even bear spray.

That bothered me a little bit, Ive lived here for 20 years so I kind of know what you probably should and shouldnt do in the wilderness, Kudryn said.

But Vladimir was an adult, Kudryn figured.

And he seemed to really want to go to the cabin.

On Aug. 18, Vladimir took a taxi from Kudryns office in Wasilla to Hatcher Pass Road, to set out for the long hike.

He wasnt completely cut off: Vladimir carried an iPhone and external power bank with solar recharging function. At first, he stayed in touch by climbing high enough on a peak near the cabin to send text messages and photos.

The first message Kudryn received showed Vladimir on the hike in, taking a timer self-portrait on the late-August tundra.

Vladimir Kostenko texted a photo taken with a self-timer to his friend Dmitry Kudryn on the 14 mile hike in to the Purches Creek cabin on Aug. 18, 2018. (Vladimir Kostenko photo)

Ascended the first mountain, Vladimir wrote in Russian.

He sent another: Crossed the creek.

Purches Creek threaded the narrow valley, the mountain walls already turning gold and green. The cabin was barely visible, a dot.

In late August and early September, Kudryn would receive intermittent text messages from the cabin, detailing Vladimirs travails with a marauding ground squirrel that he eventually killed.

Vladimir seemed to love being there.

This place is amazing, especially without the squirrel, he texted.

Kostenko texted a photo of the Purches Creek valley to his friend Dmitry Kudryn. The cabin where he planned to stay a few months is visible near the creek. (Vladimir Kostenko photo)

Kudryn asked if he had enough food.

There is enough food for three years, Vladimir replied. Im on day six of fasting.

In September, some hunter friends stopped at the cabin. They left Vladimir with fresh provisions: olives, apples, honey, smoked salmon and fresh-baked bread and kvass, a Russian fermented drink.

Some hunters stopped by the cabin in October, leaving some food with Kostenko: Apples, bread, smoked salmon, honey, olives and a Russian fermented drink called kvass. Kostenko texted a photo of the spread to his friend Dmitry Kudryn. (Vladimir Kostenko photo)

In text messages, Vladimir spoke of the cranberries and blueberries he was picking. He had boiled some down into jam.

In one of his last communications from the cabin, Kostenko texted a photo of the cranberries and blueberries he was picking. He planned to boil them down into jam. (Vladimir Kostenko photo)

I have no plans to leave, he wrote.

October came. Then November. No more text messages arrived from Vladimir.

Kudryn began to worry about the cold, and Vladimirs food supply. On Nov. 3, he and his brother, both pilots, decided to fly out to check on him.

Kudryn decided to affix cameras to his plane and make a video for his YouTube channel Crave Life, which features Alaska outdoor adventures as well as Kudryns life as a traveling businessman.

The video chronicles Kudryn shopping for and packing Home Depot buckets of carrots and bread for Vladimir. He called it Alaska Rescue Mission by Air.

Ive got a friend who went to a very remote cabin ... on foot ... literally in the middle of nowhere in the mountains, Kudryn said, narrating the video in YouTuber-style high drama. Im really, really concerned for him."

The Purches Creek valley was dusted with snow. The brothers flew low enough to see Vladimir emerge from the cabin. His arms are at his hips, standing on the porch. He looks like hes wearing black sweatpants and a light jacket.

Kudryn and his brother dropped the two buckets of food. From the porch, Vladimir gestured at them. He seemed to be saying that he was going to be heading out soon, Kudryn thought.

After that, Kudryn traveled to Asia for business. Still no Vladimir. When he got back, a 7.1 earthquake rocked Southcentral Alaska. He heard nothing from the cabin.

Worry mounting, Kudryn and his brother decided to fly out again on Dec. 23. They knew Vladimir had no experience with Alaska winter. There was only six hours of daylight now, the pink low-horizon solstice light barely creeping over the high mountain walls.

It was cold in Wasilla, in the single digits. It was even more frigid in Hatcher Pass. Kudryn filmed again for another video.

The valley was frosted in snow, the creek partly iced over. They looked for smoke from the cabins wood stove, any sign that Vladimir was inside.

Theres snow on the smokestack, Kudryn said as they flew over. That should be melted, if he was having a fire.

Dmitry Kudryn flew over his cabin in the Purches Creek Valley on Dec. 23, 2018 to see whether Vladimir Kostenko was still there. The cabin appeared to be locked. (Dmitry Kudryn photo)

The porch was clean. There were tracks all around the house but it wasnt clear whether they were from a human or an animal. This time, no one emerged from the cabin. The place looked locked up.

Maybe Vladimir was trying to walk out. They dropped more supply buckets, just in case.

Afterward, Kudryns bravado fell away. He seemed shaken.

My next phone call is going to be to the Alaska State Troopers, he said at the end of the video.

A few days later, on Dec. 26, Kudryn decided he needed to go back to the cabin to see for himself if Vladimir was inside.

He chartered a helicopter, landed and found the cabin had been meticulously sealed shut with a sheet of brown metal nailed over the door.

He pried the nails off and entered, not knowing what hed find inside. The cabin was in perfect order: Spices neatly stacked on the shelf. Plenty of firewood, a water container, bunk beds covered in blankets. Canned food. Hunting coats, outdoor gear. Empty buckets. A propane tank.

Vladimir left no notes just a Russian phrase written on a piece of wood. Alla thinks it says something like frankincense aroma do not burn." Maybe he was using it as the old preachers did, to ward off bad spirits, she said.

When Dmitry Kudryn and his brother returned to the cabin via a chartered helicopter, they found it had been neatly closed up. Inside they found plenty of food, blankets and warm clothing. (Dmitry Kudryn photo)

There was no sign of Vladimir.

Kudryn tromped through the snow and spotted one of the orange buckets he had dropped by air days earlier. MERRY CHRISTMAS, he had written on the side. Now Christmas had come and gone. It sat in the snow untouched.

The tracks seen from the air on the last flight turned out to be from a moose.

It seemed Vladimir had made a planned departure. But how long ago? And where was he now?

Kudryn asked the helicopter pilot to fly the trail Vladimir would have taken to get back to the Hatcher Pass Road. From the air, it was a thin ribbon of white in a monochrome expanse of winter spruce trees and snow. It twisted and turned. It would be easy to get lost.

Kudryn went back once more, this time with two Alaska State Troopers, by snowmachine. Again he filmed the expedition for his YouTube channel.

They found a trap line and snowmachine trails. They posted MISSING signs on spruce trees. They found no trace of Vladimir.

Kostenko was quietly listed as missing by the Alaska State Troopers, his wild-eyed photo added to a grid of more than 100 people who have disappeared in Alaska over decades.

Troopers launched no large-scale organized search for Vladimir.

In cases where a person or persons has been reported overdue from, say, a hike, troopers normally have a timeline and direction of travel to follow up on, said Ken Marsh, a spokesman for the Alaska State Troopers. Scope of the search may depend upon how long the individual has been overdue; what trail, river, or general route of travel that person is likely to have taken; geography of the location, and weather conditions.

In Vladimirs case, weeks had gone by since hed last been seen, Marsh said. Snow had fallen, obscuring tracks or other clues.

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A man walked into a wild corner of Hatcher Pass last year on a spiritual quest. He never came out. - Anchorage Daily News

The Spiritual Need for the Arts – Juneau Empire

There is, obviously, an increasing awareness that out of control commercialism is threatening life on our planet. Less obvious is the damage that commercialism has done to the arts. When I sound the alarm that art has been pushed out of daily life and the marketplace, I draw a blank not always, but often.

When I try to say it matters that art and artists are less visible, or invisible, many people do not care. What does it matter if real artists cannot make a living, starve, cannot produce the work of quality that comes from long practice and support?

Countless artists, writers and thinkers have bemoaned the degradation of art. Here is Matthew Fox in Original Blessing: The loss of cosmos in religion has been hastened by the loss of those who birth cosmos, namely the artists in our midst. With this loss, neurosis has increased in society.

Matthew Fox writes elsewhere in this creative book, If we considered artists as workers, we would put 15% of the population to work today making our lives more erotic for us by music, by clowning, by storytelling, by tumbling and juggling in our midst.

When I taught art in the alternative high school here in Juneau, I found that a high percentage of the troubled students were artistic. Their gifts are not valued. But society needs people who are right-brained and creative.

Commercialism is a serious problem in all the arts, but it is worse in visual art. Consider just two careers that have sustained artists and now have been taken from them, sign painting and graphic design. I did both of them and cannot imagine having survived without them. Most computer technicians are not artists. The ads they produce are annoying and unlovely, just one example of the consequences of non-artists doing artistic work.

It appears to be easy to pretend to be a visual artist. In New York and other big-time art centers, there is a shocking lack of quality in much of the art. The art is commercial, gimmicky, and will never stand the test of time. Real artists have been banished from the cities to the outskirts because they cant pay the rent, so thriving bohemian centers (like potentially Juneau!) are few and far between.

The real artist is spiritual. Real artists know their gifts come from God and relay through their art some kind of message, even if only love of the beauty of nature. Love of the beauty of nature and humanity is what we need to save our planet. People talk about this, but no one can express it better than an artist. To save our planet, we need our artists.

I am going to quote from Don McLeans immortal song about Van Gogh: Now I understand What you tried to say to me And how you suffered for your sanity And how you tried to set them free They would not listen, they did not know how Perhaps they will listen now.

I am going to quote from an art manifesto I wrote in 1980: The arts are the international language of the spirit. If the governments of the world do not listen to the prophetic voice of the artist, the earth as we know it is doomed. The artist is sensitive to the voice of nature. We hear her loud and clear. She is in torment. She is angry. We intend to alert the world to the cry of nature.

Common wisdom throughout the ages says that artists have a different vision. The spiritual vision of artists is needed for the good of the community, but it is squelched by commercialism which rewards and promotes non-artists without vision.

The Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer mentions artists: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them ever more glimpses of your beauty

Artists since the dawn of civilization have espoused simple, life-sustaining virtues such as beauty and love. Commercialism has worked to silence artists. We are in mortal danger now. We need to wake up.

Perhaps they will listen now.

Page Bridges is a member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Living Growing is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.

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The Spiritual Need for the Arts - Juneau Empire

Pharrell on Evolving Masculinity, "Blurred Lines," and "Spiritual Warfare" – GQ

Welcome to GQ's New Masculinity issue, an exploration of the ways that traditional notions of masculinity are being challenged, overturned, and evolved. Read more about the issue from GQ editor-in-chief Will Welch here.

The instant I join Pharrell Williams and his wife, Helen, in the lobby of the Hotel Georges V in Paris, my day becomes suddenly frictionless. The hotel door whooshes open. We step out and into an idling black Mercedes Sprinter van. It glides off. We slide out at the Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts, pausing briefly at the top of the museum stairs for Pharrell to bow to a young girl, maybe four or five years old.

Pharrell Williams covers the November issue of GQ. Click here to subscribe to GQ.

Inside the museum they are waiting for us. Pharrell has come to Paris to launch an anime-inspired collaborative installation with Mr., a Japanese artist associated with Takashi Murakami's Kaikai Kiki Co. The museum people greet us at the door; the exhibition space has been cleared so we can hang out and talk.

After a while we drift over to Market, a Jean-Georges restaurant. They are waiting for us. Delicious, healthful food arrives at the table. Pharrell and Helen close their eyes in prayer. We eat and talk and slip out. If a bill comes, I do not see it.

At Chanel they are waiting for us. In 2015, Pharrell starred in a campaign for the vaunted French fashion housenever mind that it isn't in the menswear business. Earlier this year, at the behest of the late Karl Lagerfeld, he became the first celebrity (of any gender) to collaborate on a capsule collection with the maison. It's called Chanel Pharrell. A fitting is going on in the atelier. We all wave hellos; Pharrell bows. We float up the mirrored staircase to Coco Chanel's apartment. A staff historian is waiting for us. She regales me with stories of Coco and her fabulous hideout. The metalwork of her decadent smoky-and-rose-quartz chandelier has the maison's famous double C's worked into it. When we have heard enough history, our guide evaporates so we can keep talking. There's a lot to discuss.

Pharrell has been an agent of change his whole career. When he broke into the public consciousness, about 20 years ago, as a producer and then as the frontman of N.E.R.D., he looked different from everyone else in hip-hop, wearing slimmer jeans, more fitted skate tees, and mesh trucker hats. That might not sound earth-shattering now, but a whole generation of young African American misfits will tell you that Pharrell Williams was the first time they saw themselves in pop culture. A weirdo called Skateboard P who stood confidently apart from rap's monolithic archetype. A nerd who made being different feel cool.

As he created hit after hit, Pharrell's wardrobe continued to morph. He special-ordered a custom-made Herms Birkin bag in inky purple crocodile and, in 2007, began wearing it everywhere. He started wearing Chanel clothes and jewelry, as well as designs by cultish Cline creative director Phoebe Philo.

Pharrell's wardrobe inspired subtle shifts in the culture around himand reflected shifts going on inside him too. This deep connection between his evolving fashion sensibility and his evolving sense of selfand the never-ending stream of miraculous pop music he created all the whilehas made him an icon to those of us here at GQ who believe style is about more than just clothes.

Pharrell, now 46 years old, has a brain that seems to run algorithms that project and simulate the future. He talks easily about masculinity, working through thorny ideas about the patriarchy, about the politics of gender and sexual identity in 2019 and beyond, about past missteps and his personal evolution. (As you'll see, I don't have to bring up the Blurred Lines controversy from 2013the one where the lyrics of the song he cowrote and produced for Robin Thicke were deemed rapeybecause he does.) He speaks with energy, range, and humility. Occasionally he slows down to choose his words carefully, but there is never a shadow of hesitation or fear. He thinks about this stuff constantly. He has a lot to say.


Pharrell on Evolving Masculinity, "Blurred Lines," and "Spiritual Warfare" - GQ

Rashad and Monica Bey – News-Talk 1380 WAOK

Dr. Rashad Richey sits down with Monica Bey, a holistic approach healer to discuss the benefits of spiritual healing and her journey in healing herself and others through her practices. Monica decided to build on her innate talents by furthering her studies into energy and metaphysics and developing her gifts more. She became a Certified Reiki Master, Life Coach and Hypnotist, blending these modes of healing to create a completely unique approach to fixing peoples lives and leading them to a purpose driven life through original trademarked methods.

To learn more about Monica Bey's services visithttps://www.monicabey.com/list-of-services/

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Exeter Cathedral to host ‘spiritual’ underwater video game service inspired by Jonah and the Whale – The Telegraph

The video game expert emphasised the importance of choosing an appropriate game for a service. He has previously chosen a video game called Flower to completement church services in which gamers control a flower petal with a single button press and tilt of the controller.

By the end of these sessions, we hadnt only completed the traditional Church of England service, sang hymns, received communion and shared the peace, but also journeyed together in virtual space as well.

Together we had traversed the landscape of the game and created a stream of flower petals that brought an old oak tree back to life with budding leaves.

A post on the cathedral website advertising the event invites visitors to take each others hands and explore a new world in the ancient Cathedral that encourages us to meditate, support each other and journey together.

Cruicially, it adds that the event is open to all, with no gaming experience necessary.

"Simply touch the screen and partake in a different kind of banquet for the soul.

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Exeter Cathedral to host 'spiritual' underwater video game service inspired by Jonah and the Whale - The Telegraph

Education & Health Experts fear new Quebec legislation will further erode religion in schools October 16 – Grandin Media

Many experts fear the Quebec governments legislation on education will further dismiss religion and spirituality from the provinces schools.

Among the changes announced in a billtabled Oct. 1, the government plans to abolish the Ministry of Educations religious affairs advisory committee and to remove all references to spirituality from the Education Act.

The legislation, Bill 40, coincides with ongoing debates about the place of religious beliefs in schools, especially after the adoption in June of a secularism bill that prohibits teachers from wearing religious symbols during work hours.

At a time when Bill 21 on secularism in the school system is being applied, when the future of the ethics and religious culture course is being questioned, the government is abolishing the committee that is able to give notices on these issues, said Jean-Philippe Perreault, a professor at Laval Universitys Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies.

A specialist in ethics and religious culture, Perreault is a member of the Religious Affairs Committee.

In 2000, in the wake of the deconfessionalization of the Quebec school system,a Catholic anda Protestant committee of the Ministry of Education were replaced by the Religious Affairs Committee, whose role became only advisory.

When asked to explain why the current Quebec government intends to abolish the committee, Esther Chouinard, communications officer for the Quebecs Ministry of Education and Higher Education, replied: The committees opinion has not been sought since 2007.

The last chair of the committee, Marie-Andree Roy of the Department of Science and Religion at the University of Quebec at Montreal, who stepped down in 2013, does not think the government is making the right decision.

The committee made a significant contribution to the establishment of the Ethics and Religious Culture program. It has produced various very relevant studies on issues related to religion in schools, but was generally met with radio silence from the ministers, she said, stressing that the committee still exists by law, even though the government has been ignoring it for a few years.

The first chair of the committee, Jean-Marc Charron, a specialist in the psychology of religion at the University of Montreal, had even advocated unsuccessfully for the creation of an equivalent committee for all departments.

Religious issues are regularly in the news, and the misunderstanding of political leaders in this field amply justifies the existence of a forum for advice for the entire government apparatus, he said.

If Bill 40 is adopted as it stands by the QuebecNational Assembly, the section that states that a student is entitled to complementary services of spiritual animation and community engagement will be repealed from the Education Act, as will the section that states that the school must facilitate the students spiritual development in order to foster his or her development.

This worries spiritual life and community engagement leaders, who replaced pastoral agents in schools two decades ago. Some said they fear it will open the door to the elimination of their jobs.

But Chouinard said amendments to the legislation would have no impact on maintaining the function or on student services.

She also confirmed that the additional service of spiritual animation and community engagement is one of the 12 complementary services officially provided in the province and would remain so if the bill is adopted.

-Vaillancourt is editor of Presence info. Contributing to this story was Francois Gloutnay, a reporter for the agency,in Montreal.

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Education & Health Experts fear new Quebec legislation will further erode religion in schools October 16 - Grandin Media

Spiritual Reflections: Even for a Midwesterner, work and play can be balanced – SW News Media

You would think it would be an easy choice between working or having fun, right? Not for me!

I was born and raised in Minnesota, a typical Midwesterner by most standards. I am also of German and Norwegian ancestry. Im telling you this because I, like many of us, grew up with a strong work ethic. In fact, in my family work always came before fun. As many of you already know, the work is never done, which means the fun times are few and far between.

An even bigger stretch was the idea that work and fun could go together and it was not an either/or; both could actually happen at the same time. Who knew?

It was hard to move from making work the only priority to incorporating fun into the things I did, even though I knew how important it was. Just as I had learned growing up, work was still first priority. I knew that is not what I wanted and I would have to find a way to make another choice. Given this work ethic hardwired into my brain, I clearly had something to work on.

Thats when I heard about a workshop focusing on adding fun into your life. A friend of mine was going, and although I was still skeptical, I thought I would give it a try.

I enjoyed the workshop, brought home a chart to help me intentionally add fun things and laid it on my desk not quite ready to dive into it. Every now and then I picked it up and thought maybe I could add some fun to my life. I started small, but the more I did, the more I liked it. Before I realized it, searching out things that were new and different had actually became part of my life.

One of the things I searched out was how to paint the beautiful mandala stones that you see on social media. It took quite a while to find a teacher so I could learn how to paint them, but when I did, I had so much fun that I decided that others might enjoy this, too. That led me in a direction I had not expected: I now teach others how to paint the beautiful stones.

I know for a fact that if I had not taken that workshop on fun, I probably would have continued to fit fun in when I could rather than making an intentional effort to seek it. This helped me to change my belief that work is the only important attribute to have, and it was easier than I thought to make this a daily intention even for me.

I dont believe that at our essence we are meant to struggle to be who we are. I think all too often we forget that our loving and gracious God has given us the capacity to for joy and fun, which sometimes gets lost in daily life. I would challenge you today to begin to think about how you can add fun into even the hardest parts if your life.

Sandy Thibault is a life coach, author, speaker and owner of Safari of the Spirit Life Coaching in Savage. She is the author of Selmas Spirit A Journey of Peace and Forgiveness and her new book, Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life 52 Ways To Inspire You to Action. For more information go to her website, safariofthespirit.com.


Spiritual Reflections: Even for a Midwesterner, work and play can be balanced - SW News Media

Opinion | Graham Rockingham: A year of living spiritually without religion – TheSpec.com

She danced with witches, built a new age altar, went 40-days alcohol free for Lent (even tried a couple of AA meetings), visited Thoreau's Walden Pond and drove to Lily Dale, N.Y, North America's oldest spiritual community. She hugged a tree, even spoke to it, practised yoga with goats, immersed herself in a float tank, learned to interpret Tarot cards, explored past-life regression, hosted a "death dinner," donned a pink hat for the Women's March in Washington, chowed down on a megadose of magic mushrooms (her first and only time), tidied her house ala Marie Kondo ... and got a tattoo, a little one, of a bird, on her shoulder.

There was other stuff, too, but you'll have to read the book to find out what.

It's called "My Year of Living Spiritually," 254 pages published by Douglas and McIntyre, and it's coming to your local book store on Oct. 26. You can attend the book launch on that day from 7 to 9 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, a place of worship as liberal as the Canadian Reformed Church is conservative. Bokma is also speaking Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 9 a.m. at the Royal Botanical Gardens, presented by A Different Drummer Books.

Bokma approached her spiritual encounters with both an open mind and a journalist's skepticism. While some therapies failed to provide the promised spiritual boost, Bokma never questioned the sincerity of the people pushing them. Most came to her through trusted recommendations.

Some required travel and money (she budgeted $300 on items for the new age altar), but many were found close to home and for free.

Perhaps the most moving chapter is "Finding My Voice," in which Bokma finds spiritual solace through the shared voices of a community choir. At one point the choir visits a palliative care unit. Bokma is brought to tears by how a simple song can raise the spirit of those facing their final breath. The narrative is poignant and compelling.

Although it wasn't Bokma's original intention, the book became more of a personal memoir than a work of journalism. Her path kept returning to her broken relationship with her family, in particular her mother, a woman she had always admired.

The new age altar didn't survive the year, but Bokma has cut back on her alcohol consumption, pulled the plug on the TV and learned to accept her life with gratitude. Her house is a much tidier place, due to Marie Kondo, and, after more than 30 years of marriage, she has rethought her relationship with her husband.

Perhaps most importantly, her year-long journey has brought some reconciliation with her mother, helping to mend a rift that opened more than 35 years ago.

"She read the book. I had to show it to her, she's in it so much," Bokma says. "I thought maybe that would be the end, that we would never speak again. I had no idea how she would react.

"The next morning she called me at 8 a.m. She had stayed up all night and read it. She didn't hate it. She didn't like it, or love it. She corrected a couple of things.

"And said 'I do love you.' That was the first time I had heard that in a long time.'"

What: Book launch for "My Year of Living Spiritually," by Anne Bokma. A reading by Bokma plus a conversation with Tom Wilson, author of the bestselling memoir "Beautiful Scars." Musical performances by Lyla Miklos, Darcy Mitchison and J.P. Morrison

When: Saturday, Oct. 26, 7 p.m.

Where: First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, 170, Dundurn St. S.


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Opinion | Graham Rockingham: A year of living spiritually without religion - TheSpec.com

Workplace and spirituality: Meeting of opposites – The Manila Times


I am sure that you will all agree with me, that despite the Philippines being a Christian nation, there is a possibility of having room for different perspectives of spirituality. Yet, we would nod to the fact that spirituality is a universal human experience and forms the core of our fundamental nature. Since ages, human beings have walked the path of spirituality to search for the meaning of their existence.

Spirituality relates with finding a connection with some higher power. The literary definition of spirituality relates with finding meaning, purpose and connectedness (with all entities). Now the big question comes: Can spirituality be experienced only in meditation halls, temples, churches, mosques or can it be experienced even within the organizational context? And, if yes, then how is this experience made possible within organizations, and what benefit can organizations and individuals derive out of it. This is a broader question which I am trying to answer here.

You might be wondering why there is there a need of spirituality at workplaces. The answer lies in todays complex, ambiguous, uncertain and highly volatile business environment. Things are interrelated like never before (yet we feel disconnected). The recession at one part of the globe has a ripple effect on the other sides of the planet. Downsizing, layoffs, constant pressure from jobs, use of temporary workforce, long working hours and changes in social structures (downfall of joint families and rising nuclear families) have generated the feeling of alienation in individuals. People feel that despite being connected through the Internet of things, they are isolated, empty and find their life meaningless. All this outer turmoil has triggered an inner journey towards finding meaning and purpose in life.

As people spend most of their substantial time in the office, organizations can take charge of filling this inner void in individuals through providing them meaning, purpose and a sense of strong connectedness with the larger society. Organizations can provide purpose and meaning to employees by integrating and practicing universal spiritual values such as benevolence, integrity, compassion, mutuality and respect. Such organizations are kind, careful and affectionate towards all the stakeholders (internal and external); mindful of their actions towards others and show congruence between their words and actions.

For example, these organizations focus on serving the larger community (or society) by producing earth-friendly products and avoid actions that harm other entities. Workplace spirituality make people realize how ones organization is fitting in the larger picture, with respect to meeting the economic and social goals in a balancing manner. This would generate social value along with the economic value that in turn, would make organizations meaningful for employees as they will feel that they are part of a larger cause.

Employees engaged in such organizations would sense the contribution towards organizational vision through their work that marks a difference in others lives which in turn, instills a sense of self-worth in them. Employees feel their life has meaning, feel more connected with the larger community and develop deep emotional bonding with their respective organizations. The notion of making a difference in others lives enhances positive feelings and well-being of the individuals (doing the kind act). Positive feelings act as antidote to stress, and we know that happy employees are the most productive employees. Organizations with a spiritual element enjoy good public reputation which further reinforces employees reputation in society, making employees glued to the organization for a longer time.

Thus, integrating spirituality in the workplace is a win-win approach due to its benefits for employees, organizations and of course, the larger society. I hope to have set a favorable tone for a spiritual element in organizations. I leave it to you readers to decide.

Dr. Chitra Khari is an assistant professor at the Institute of Management at Nirma University in India, where she teaches organizational behavior and emotional intelligence. She is a member of the Management, Spirituality and Religion Interest Group of the Academy of Management where De La Salle University is a part. Email: chitrakhari045@gmail.com

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Workplace and spirituality: Meeting of opposites - The Manila Times

The spiritual meaning of St. Michaels name reminds us how we should live our lives – Aleteia EN

St. Michael is widely known as the archangel who fought back Satan and cast him from Heaven. It is believed that his name, Michael, is closely associated with this spiritual battle and reminds us all how we should live our lives.

According to theSt. Andrew Daily Missal, The name Michael means, in Hebrew, who is like God? and recalls the battle in heaven between the prince of the heavenly host and the devil, a battle which began with Lucifers rebellion and continues down the ages.

It is believed that Michaels battle cry was exactly that Who is like God? enacting judgement on Satans desire to be like God. Many images of St. Michael contain this phrase in Latin on his shield, Quis ut Deus?

This is in fact the definition of Michael in the Hebrew language and further recalls the temptation in the Garden, when Satan tried to lure Adam and Eve into taking the fruit by saying, you will be like God.

The meaning of St. Michaels name reminds us that we should not try to be like God. This may seem like an obvious statement, but how often do we play God in our lives?

We tend to want to be in complete charge, and often get upset when things dont go our way. At a subconscious level we somehow think that we rule the world and should control every aspect of it.

In other words, the more prideful we become, the more like God we think we are.

The true heart of a Christian is to be close to the ground, humble, in every sense of the word. This does not mean we need to let others trample over us like a used carpet, but that we need to recognize our place in the world as created beings, entirely dependent on God.

When we truly realize that and let it sink into our heart, our lives will radically change. The next time something goes wrong in our lives, instead of getting angry and doing something even worse, we will be able to accept it from God.

Humility is the key to holiness, and even St. Michaels name reminds us of that simple fact.

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The spiritual meaning of St. Michaels name reminds us how we should live our lives - Aleteia EN

Kourtney Kardashian Opens Up About Her New Venture and Why She Wont Force Spirituality on Her Kids – PEOPLE.com

Kourtney Kardashian Won't Force Spirituality on Her Kids | PEOPLE.com Top Navigation Close View image

Kourtney Kardashian Opens Up About Her New Venture and Why She Won't Force Spirituality on Her Kids

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Kourtney Kardashian Opens Up About Her New Venture and Why She Wont Force Spirituality on Her Kids - PEOPLE.com